to the curve of you
to the curve of you, has been developed in partnership with the TarraWarra Museum of Art for the TarraWarra Biennial 2021: Slow Moving Waters.
Vitality becomes you, 2021
Essence meets essence, 2021
to the curve of you (Achira), 2020-21
to the curve of you takes place across the IMA’s gallery and garden. This lyrical project by Caitlin Franzmann incorporates elements created in dialogue with an array of collaborators—an intervention in our courtyard garden, a sensorial gallery installation, a publication of responsive texts, and performance activations that occur regularly throughout the exhibition’s duration. Accompanying these elements is a schedule of public programming that focuses on the IMA garden and its plantings, utilising this common space as part of the project to encourage gathering, learning, and conversation amongst visitors.
The focus of Caitlin’s multi-form investigation is Achira (Canna indica)—a lush flowering plant native to the tropical and sub-tropical Americas. The artist developed a fascination with this plant while living on the outskirts of Brisbane where it grows abundantly around waterways. It was brought to Australia to be cultivated for starch and is sometimes known as ‘Queensland Arrowroot’—it’s agricultural use has declined but the climatic conditions here are so comparable to its Andean origins that it gently thrives in residential garden beds, on cleared land and along disturbed waterways.
to the curve of you developed through a research-based process where Caitlin attempted to holistically come to know the properties and uses of Achira. She began by contacting Leticia Guevarra, a Quechua medicine woman in Peru, to learn about the significance of the plant in its place of origin and the traditional knowledge connected to it—pampach’i (as it is known in Quechua) is used for healing, both humans and the earth.
This conversation was documented by Caitlin and expanded on in a transoceanic exchange with Camila Marambio, Chilean curator and founder of eco-feminist research collective Ensayos. It appears in to the curve of you as part of a poster-publication entitled Revelations, a collection of texts that trace the accrual of knowledge and continued searching throughout this project. Through her exchanges with Camila, Caitlin’s texts become increasingly poetic, mirroring the shifts of her research as she moved from empirical knowledge into the more intuitive modes encouraged by Achira.
For this project, IMA courtyard garden has been replanted by Caitlin and gardener Kate Wall. Their intention was to bring in species that, like Achira, have many applications but are often overlooked or undervalued. Pink baby’s breath, false dandelion, sword ferns, and blue heliotrope all intermingle amongst the native and naturalised plants that remain from Céline Condorelli’s Corps à Corps installation. This secondary intervention by Caitlin and Kate remains true to the intention of the original commission and recreates a thriving ‘community of plants’ by finding balance between native and naturalised flora that is fitting to the harsh urban context of the IMA courtyard. These new introductions to the garden work to enrich the soil and bolster the health of the pre-existing vegetation, hold various medicinal or nutritional values, and will bloom to coincide with the mid-summer exhibition. These properties, along with the ethical responsibilities of working with ‘weeds’, will be explored in a series of garden tours, discussions, and workshops that unfold throughout the exhibition dates.
Inside the galleries, to the curve of you consists of an installation in two parts. In the first half of the divided gallery, vials of flower essence line the wall surrounding a handblown glass flask created with glass artist Jarred Wright. This flask contains vitality becomes you, the mother essence of Achira that was ‘charged’ at the harvest site by Caitlin and mindbody healer, Annie Meredith. Flower essences work on an energetic level to bring about subtle changes in emotional and attitudinal states. Visitors are invited to take a vial to put on their wrist pulse points to encounter Achira through their own experience and perception.
A dandelion yellow wall leads into the second room where custom-built instruments sit on bespoke stands with canna seeds resting on their taut skins and nailed surface. This space is bathed in a strong red light and multi-channel audio of field recordings intermingled with the rhythmic percussive waves of the seeds-on-skin. These instruments are periodically activated by performers to create a live meditative score that merges aqueous bodies of plants, insects, mycelium, microbes, and humans.
Intuition has been an important element of Caitlin’s research process for to the curve of you. As she attempted to draw closer to the origin of her fascination with Achira, the processes she undertook with each collaborator required time, proximity and constant engagement with the plant. Despite her far-reaching search for factual information; a sustained intimacy was created through being still the with the plant, deep listening to its rhythms and observing its shifts within a local ecosystem. It became a case of stopping the search, slowing down, perceiving the information Achira was offering up and trusting the revelations that followed.
The summative experience of all these elements is a sensorial engagement with Achira through sound, energy, scent, sight, and touch. It is an open invitation to ‘step inside the flower’, within which, nuances may be shaped by the different histories, perceptions, and experiences of visitors.
By favoring corporeal discourse rather than fact or logic, Caitlin offers us an optimistic pathway through which we might come to sense Achira and, more broadly, the world around us. to the curve of you asks us to open our hearts, to listen, to be still—to approach the essence of the essence.
Vitality becomes you.
How does your garden grow? Garden tour and panel discussion (Register)
With Caitlin Franzmann, gardener Kate Wall, and ecologist Renee Rossini
13 February, 1–4pm
Cultivating Curiosity: Garden tour and papermaking workshop (Register)
With Caitlin Franzmann and Kate Wall
27 February, 1–4pm
On Fire: Climate and Crisis exhibition tour and to the curve of you performance activation
Every Thursday and Saturday, 11am (commencing 6 Febraury)
Acknowledgments and Thanks
Caitlin honours the traditional custodians of the lands on which she lives and has roamed for this project, including the Turrbal, Jagera, Yugambeh and Jinibarra people of South East Queensland. She also pays respect to the Quechua people of the Andean highlands, where Achira continues to grow and honours the many plant custodians who keep traditional knowledge.
In addition to thanking the wonderful team at IMA and 2021 TarraWarra Biennial curator Nina Miall, Caitlin would also like to thank the many people who have contributed skills and knowledge to help realise this project:
Leticia Guevarra is a Quechua medicine woman and co-founder of Hampi Mama (“Medicine Mother” in Quechua), a Botanical Sanctuary in Peru. Hampi Mama is led by Quechua women, to share traditional knowledge, restore landscapes, and foster healthy communities through regenerative agriculture.
Charlie Hillhouse is an Australian-based artist working across film, photography and printed media. His practice employs non-traditional documentation to explore the everyday, often highlighting intimate moments of resistance to daily life. Hillhouse also established Romantic Press (Tokyo, 2014) and Small House Books (Brisbane, 2010), producing limited edition publications and print-driven projects of independent artists.
Amelia Hine is an academic, designer, & emerging artist. Her practice focuses on complex networks and more-than-human relationships that are shaped by and influence mine closure and landscape planning.
Camila Marambio is a curator, private investigator, permaculture enthusiast, amateur dancer and writer. In 2010, she founded and now directs the nomadic research program Ensayos. She is co-author of the books Slow Down Fast, A Toda Raja, with Cecilia Vicuña (Errant Bodies Press, 2019) and Sandcastles: Cancerous Bodies and Their Necro/Powers, with Nina Lykke (forthcoming).
Annie Meredith is an expert in flower essences with close to 50 years of experience in vibrational medicine, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is creator of HeartRadiance Essences, offering vibrational medicine that embodies a state of togetherness, unity and energetic health and harmony.
Renee Rossini is an ecologist with a rich experience gained researching and working along the coastlines to the arid zone, but always with a strong focus on the conservation of Australia’s unique flora and fauna. She is currently Science and Education Manager at Queensland Trust for Nature and maintains her research and education positions at the University of Queensland and Griffith University.
Kate Wall is a gardening professional and author of ‘Working with Weeds: A practical guide to understanding, managing and using weeds’. With a background in environmental science and a commitment to a culture of caring, Kate specializes in teaching people to garden in harmony with nature. She focuses on a sustainable approach to gardening, encouraging gardeners to understand and work with a subtropical climate and successfully grow food, medicine and an incredible abundance of flowers and joy.
Jarred Wright is a glass artist from Christchurch, Aotearoa, currently living in Meanjin (Brisbane), Australia. He is a scientific glass blower working in the chemistry, nano-technology and microbiology industry. He is influenced by the organic forms that arise in the imperceptible microcosm of nature and how the amorphous solid/fluid that is molten glass can accurately portray it.
The installation will be activated with performances by musicians and improvisers Jodie Rottle, Hannah Reardon-Smith, and Amanda Terry for the Opening.
Additional thanks to Paul Warry, Dhana Merritt, Pete Sheilds, Glen Urquhart & Celia Roberts.